Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

December 1, 2013


Things, things, things – and more things!


This week my wife and I have been unboxing plastic tubs marked “Christmas.” And packing up other things in tubs marked “Thanksgiving.”

Dean is very wise. For many years she has boxed up seasonal things and stacked them, neatly marked, on shelves in our garage.

          Dean’s memory is impressive. She remembers that she has certain things she delights in using to decorate our home during the various seasons. Outside our front door stands a little man made of straw guarding a pumpkin. She paid three dollars for the little fellow years ago at a thrift shop.  This year she dressed him in an Auburn sweat shirt and put a tiny football in his hands. Soon the little straw man will be in a box marked “Thanksgiving.”

          Wednesday Dean asked me to go out to our storage room and bring in the Christmas tree on a board. George and Jeannette helped her make it last fall. We hang it on the wall and plug in the cord so the tiny colored lights may shine. It is one of our newest things.

          Soon we will unbox our Christmas tree and Dean will remember who gave us most of the ornaments we hang on the tree. As usual I will listen in awe as she recites the name connected to each ornament. “Dot gave us this one in 1960” and “Your mother gave us this one when we lived in Nashville.”

          Lately I have been thinking about all the things we have accumulated during 61 years of marriage. Everywhere I look in our home I see things, things, things – and more things. Very few are expensive. Most of them have one thing in common – each was a gift from someone.

          Once or twice a year we go on a rampage and take a load of our stuff to the rescue mission. But invariably we find it difficult to give away any of the things other people have given us. The stuff we give away is almost always something we bought ourselves. We want to hang on to our gifts because they remind us of people who have loved us, people we have loved.

          So when I am tempted to fret because the house is cluttered with so many things, I try to remember that we have these things because we have been loved. We give things, big things and little things, to others as a tangible expression of love and friendship. At Christmastime three cookies wrapped in cellophane may be a friend’s way of saying, “I am thankful for what you mean to me.” The cookies will be enjoyed, the wrapping discarded but the love will be long remembered. The things that are not edible will find a place on a wall, a cabinet or a table, joining dozens of other things that occupy space in our home.

          Take a good look at your things this season. I would imagine most of your things, like ours, were given to you by someone who cared about you. Think about that. Such things, even inexpensive little things, are not junk. They are actually treasures that remind you of people who have made a difference in your life, people who loved you warts and all.  Perhaps, like me, you will want to pause for a moment and give thanks for the love in which each gift was wrapped.

          Love inspires us to keep finding a place for the many things that to us are not clutter but precious reminders of people who have a place in our hearts. + + +